The verdict is sadly in. Our state agencies and county governments, have failed us, miserably. Well-meaning environmentalists, who wanted to save our watershed, destroyed it. It is time for the ranchers, farmers and landowners to take it back.
The Board of Supervisors should repeal the Watershed Protection Ordinance. The ordinance, per se, did not cause the conflagration. The philosophy behind it did.
The destruction they have wrought on our hillsides is indescribable.
For the past 45 years, we saw this disaster coming. We attended the meetings. Like Cassandra, we landowners warned our leaders and the thoughtful environmentalists, but no one would listen.
It was such an easy call.
We, who were raised in the hills, are reminded every October, when puddles form and flows increase in the river and our creeks, that trees are shutting down for the winter. We’ve always known that unhealthy forests soak up more water than vineyards. Our hills once averaged 60 to 100 trees per acre. Now they are clogged by 500 to 800 trees per acre. More trees — or transpiration — less water for the creeks, rivers, springs and wells.
When I grew up in Conn Valley, all the neighbors tended to the forests. We had fires, occasionally, but low-intensity ones — not like the ferocious ones we’ve recently experienced because we had fewer trees and dangerous undergrowth.